Exit grants for Tasmanian forest contractors

FEDERAL Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, and Tasmania’s Deputy Premier, Bryan Green, have announced a voluntary exit package of up to $45 million to assist Tasmanian forestry contractors wishing to leave the industry.

The package is part of the $276 million Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement signed by the Prime Minister and the Tasmanian Premier on 7 August.

Minister Ludwig said the grants will assist Tasmania’s public native forest sector to adjust to the industry downturn and the reduced scale of harvesting.

Eligible businesses can apply for exit grants of up to $3 million.

“The Federal Government acknowledges that changes in markets and community values are impacting the forestry sector in Tasmania and these grants will help the industry transition to a more sustainable footing,” Minister Ludwig said.

“This voluntary exit package for forestry contractors demonstrates both Government’s strong commitment to delivering on our Inter-Governmental Agreement.”

Mr Green said the package was recognition of the impact of industry changes on public native forest businesses.

“The assistance package is a significant milestone and an integral part of delivering on the restructuring of the forest industry under the IGA,” Mr Green said.

“This package will assist eligible contractor businesses to exit the native forest harvest, haulage and silvicultural contracting sectors.

“The IGA is about moving the industry forward and assisting workers to leave the industry with dignity and would not have been possible without this agreement.

“This is a further step on the way to securing the future of Tasmania’s sawmilling and veneer industries which will provide certainty for workers and new opportunities for regional communities while achieving conservation outcomes.

“The changes facing the industry are not of the government’s making but we are determined to see through the job of restructuring the industry under the IGA.

Mr Green said businesses needing support would have received no money and the industry would face more uncertainty under the Tasmanian Liberals’.

“The IGA is the way forward and the sooner the Liberals get their heads out of the sand and realise that the better,” Mr Green said.

Applications for the $45 million exit assistance program will open on 26 October 2011 and close on 23 November 2011.

For more information about the package or to register your interest, call 02 6272 5079.

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